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The St. Johns River The Intracoastal and Beyond

Crane Creek, Melbourne Florida

Crane Creek is freshwater, but saltwater runs into it from the Indian River (which is really not a river at all, but a saltwater inlet), making the water brackish. That just means it's a mix of saltwater and fresh water, making it home to a mix of saltwater and fresh water birds, fish and other wildlife.

The first creek I every kayaked in my boat, Crane Creek is still my favorite. There are different parts to the ride that make it interesting and beautiful, and my very best manatee encounters have been there.

You have a couple of options where to launch to paddle Crane Creek. First, you can put in at the Front Street Park where there is lots of parking, three docks, and plenty of room to back your car up and launch your boat into the Indian River.

Front Street Boat Ramp
Front Street Boat Launching

When you launch here, the Melbourne Causeway will be immediately to your left. Go right, around the building you see in the above photo, and keep going to the right through the small marina.

RookeryThere is a bird nesting island next to the building, and at the right time of the year it is a noisy, busy spot with a huge variety of birds sharing a small space to build their nests and raise their young. By September all but the latest birds have left home and moved elsewhere.

Manatee Boardwalk
Manatee Boardwalk

Once you pass under the US-1 bridge, you will be at the Manatee Boardwalk. Go under the railroad tracks and just keep heading west.....

You can also launch from the Manatee Boardwalk, if you prefer to bypass the Indian River/marina part of the ride. Some days the Indian River can be a bit rough, but Crane Creek is more protected from the wind, and is an easier paddle. There is a small grassy area at the far east end of the boardwalk, right before the US-1 bridge, that is quite sufficient for launching a kayak.

We've seen dolphin and manatee and the bird island up to this point in the ride, but the best is yet to come!

The creek leads through a large open area with houses on the edge, then some beautiful, secluded coves that are great for watching manatee, then a narrow, twisty stream that winds through a quiet residential area. For many months I went only this far, turning back when the trail became wild and overgrown.

Crane Creek
Crane Creek

Finally one day Judy and I took a pair of loppers and opened up the wild trail a little. We found a whole new adventure in front of us! There is a part of the path that is completely enclosed with trees, and you paddle in a dim, cool, green world. Then you squeeze under the pipes at the Babcock Street bridge and find yourself on the edge of the FIT Botanical Gardens. Beautiful!

We have heard that when the water is high enough you can get all the way to the golf course, but we haven't made it that far yet.

Indian River Lagoon Map
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